TMPF's List Of Robo Advisors :
2018 Expanded Guide

Learning how to invest can be overwhelming. So much that people avoid it altogether.  To help folks better understand what's out there, I've compiled a list of robo advisors currently in the market, with some tidbits about some of their more meaningful features.  


Tip:  Bookmark this page as I will be periodically updating the list of robo advisors.


Wait! What's a Robo Advisor?

List Of Robo Advisors

Not an actual Robo Advisor 🙂

Traditionally, when someone had a little extra cash they wanted to invest, they had two options.

  1. Invest It Yourself 
  2. Hire a Financial Manager To Invest For You

Both options have their pros and cons, and with advances in machine learning over the last decade, a new option for personal investing emerged, the robo advisor.  

With a focus on transparency, automation, and low costs, robo advisors have made a huge splash in the world of personal finance.  It's crazy how in just a few years the market has went  from 2-3 start-ups, to where we are now where every major brokerage firm has their own flavor.  

How Do Robo Advisors Work?

Generally speaking, the way they work is; 

  • 1
    You set up and fund an account with the robot of your choice
  • 2
    Then answer some questions to determine your risk tolerance i.e. how panicked you'll get when the market swings
  • 3
    They create and manage a portfolio of assets, typically exchange traded funds (ETFs), that fit your risk tolerance based on proprietary algorithms that work to continuously optimize your investments

Pretty cool, right?  

Acorns

Acorns has an interesting approach to investing where they enable you to do "micro-investing" of small amounts.  They do this by linking with your credit or debit card, rounding  up your purchases, and automatically investing the difference.  

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Ameritrade

Ameritrade has been in the investment services industry for decades, with an established and trusted brand.  Their robo-advisor offering is focused on providing only the essentials portfolio options someone needs, with a huge selection of account options.  

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Betterment

Betterment is one of the leaders in the robo-advisor space.  It's focused on offering an easy to use experience for the hands-off investor, while still providing the right mix of tools that keep you informed and engaged

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blooom

Blooom has positioned itself uniquely in the robo advisor space by focusing specifically on employee sponsored 401k's.  Their goal is to enable smaller businesses to offer a sponsored funds as an employee benefit, while not incurring the higher  costs that tend to accompany most traditional providers

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Charles Schwab 

Charles Schwab is an established player in the finance industry.  With "Intelligent Portfolios" they are offering a middle-ground option for folks who like the personalization of a financial advisor, but would like to have some more hands-off options as well.  

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Ellevest

Ellevest is uniquely positioned for the female investor, factoring in things like differences in income and longer lifespans.   The also a suite of planning tools as well that help you focus your investments on both short and long term goals.

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E-Trade Core Portfolio

E-Trade is a long standing, established player in the finance industry.  With "Core Portfolio" they are offering a middle-ground option for folks who like the personalization of a financial advisor, but would like to have some more hands-off options as well.  

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Fidelity Go

Fidelity is an established player in the finance industry.  With "Fidelity Go" they are targeting customers who may not yet be ready for their full financial services, but would like to be able to grow into them later.

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Future Advisor

Future Advisor is online service that manages your portfolio based on a risk assessment.  Where they are a bit unique  is that they provide recommendations on your linked portfolio, whether they manage them or not, like those managed by Fidelity or Ameritrade.  

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Hedgeable

As the name implies, Hedgeable is working to bring more sophisticated investing techniques utilized by hedge funds investors to the average person.  This means they employ risk mitigation strategies that hypothetically will protect against market downturns.  

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M1 Finance

M1 Finance is a hybrid of a traditional broker and a robo-advisor.  What makes them unique is how they do portfolio allocations.  They have designed their offering around the concept of "Pies", which are essentially templates on how to allocate your money into a portfolio of investments. 

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motif

Motif's is a hybrid of both a traditional broker and robo-advisor.  While you can buy and trade stocks and ETF's like a traditional broker,  you can also create collections or "motifs".  These are groups of stocks and ETF's selected around various themes, including socially responsible ones e.g. renewable energy.

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OpenInvest

OpenInvest is focused on serving people  are looking for portfolios that include more socially responsible investment choices focused around causes like renewable energy, and green technologies.  

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Stash

Stash takes a unique approach to the passive investing game.  They don't automatically manage your portfolio the way robo-advisor, rather they provide a guided experience holding to build a portfolio that closer matches your needs.  

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Vanguard

Vanguard is an established player in the finance industry.  With "Personal Advisor Services" they are offering a middle-ground option for folks who like the personalization of a financial advisor, but would like to have some more hands-off options as well.  

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Wealthfront

Wealthfront is one of the original entries into the robo-advisor space.  It's focused on offering an easy to use experience for the hands-off investor, while still providing the right mix of tools that keep you informed and engaged, like it's "Path" tool.

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Wealthsimple

Wealthsimple is focused on folks who are looking for portfolio options that include more socially responsible investments like renewable energy, and green technologies. They have been around for years in Canada, entering the US market in 2016. 

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Next Steps:

Now that you've had a chance to explore the list of robo advisors, you may be wondering what to do next.  One of things I recommend in the the TMPF Basics of Personal Finance, is to do these two things prior to any serious investing.

Why is that important?  Because you want to be able to invest money and leave it.  


When I was still in debt and unprepared for any emergency, I would treat my investments as a piggybank.  I'd put money in one month, and take it out the two months later.  Doing that is a great way to lose money on your investments.  Don't do it.


Once you've done those, I'd recommend picking a robo advisor that has the features and cost structure that make sense to you, and start making consistent re-occurring investments into it.  Before you know it, you'll have a growing account 🙂


Personally, I've been using Wealthfront for the past year, and have really been pleased with it the results.  What robo advisors are you using?  Any other ones I should I check out?  


Leave a comment below and let me know!



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About the Author

Hello, I'm Ryan Rollins. I've been passionate about personal finance and entrepreneurship for as long as I can remember. After earning my Bachelors of Science in Marketing, I soon found myself at my first software start-up. That experience led to me pursuing an MBA in Entrepreneurship from the University of Louisville, and eventually to a career in product management within the financial services industry, where I've spent the last 8 years focusing on financial education and consumer lending. When I'm not working I enjoy spending as much time as I can with my amazing family, going for long runs around the neighborhood, and develop a portfolio of passive investments and income streams. You can also follow me on twitter @TMPF_Ryan

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